Christmas in July and save in December
Like that recurring cold sore brought on by “stress”, the Christmas shopping season will be here in less than six months. These are our 9 money-saving tips to Christmas in July and be prepared when the holidays come.
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It’s almost literally Christmas
While you’re sucking down that cool pop and sitting in a lawn chair with your feet in a kiddie pool, the Debt Free Guys have come up with nine ways to prepare for the insatiable need to spend money you don’t really have for people you don’t really like because of the most important thing ever or the biggest lie ever.
1. Harness Your Christmas in July Budget
By now you’re saying, “John, if this is another laundry list of money tips I already know, I’m outta here.” To that, I say, “Let’s build a base, then yuletide.”
You can’t create a spending plan of any kind without knowing how much money you have. First, decide what your
Christmas holiday shopping budget is. How much money can you spend on Santa in July to save Benjamins in December? We decide our Christmas in July budget each year, then chop off 10 percent. This keeps our spending within reason, especially if we suffer from budget – along with waistline – creep over the holidays.
Don’t have a budget? The Budget Buster Bundle is the best and only budget you’ll ever need.
2. Erect your Xmas list in July
“John!,” you’re saying. To that, I say, “Chill like a whiskey slush!”
Then, before you get all hopped up on egg nog, create a list of the people for whom you’ll buy your non-offensive, gender-neutral, holiday season gift. Most money success comes from planning. Know for whom you’ll buy and why. If the best reason you come up with for putting someone on your Santa shopping list is, “Well . . . because . . . “, then they must go faster than a politician on recess.
3. Fiesta shopping in the 7
Americans still have another month and a half in which we’ll travel, vacation and road trip or, as they say elsewhere, holiday (no, the Madonna joke comes next). Armed with your budget and pertinent list of gift recipients, consider out-of-season, unique and non-native gifts while you browse boardwalks, vacation destinations and rare gift and art stores. How creative is giving another sweater at Christmas, anyway?
Let your loved one know you thought of them while you were halfway across the country or globe for “me time”. Buy them something they won’t find at their local mall or that Amazon can’t deliver via drone.
4. Miles Away Isn’t just a Madonna song
We usually only think about airline miles and points when we travel, and we usually travel in the summer. However, miles can be used in lieu of money for things more tangible than sand and sea. The airline industry is on an unhinged obsession to reduce seat space and create more fees than governments create taxes. Though, we’d rather pay more taxes than get a black eye.
Who knows how much longer your airline miles will have value? Use miles to buy Christmas gifts. Log into your airline account and shop away on miles.
5. Ladies aren’t late
As every lady knows, it’s not good to be late. If you wait till Black Friday for Christmas shopping deals, it’s too late. This is why we Christmas in July.
Yes, retailers offer “money deals” throughout the holiday shopping season. What they don’t tell you is they increase prices in the fall, so they can “markdown” those items come Black Friday. Also, they reduce prices for some items – loss leaders – to get you into the store and increase prices for other items. Loss leaders can make you a loser. Avoid the psychological manipulation and crowds by finishing your Christmas shopping July before the first Trick-or-Treater kicks down your door.
6. DigiShop when it’s hot
You may say, “well, duh!” to this suggestion, but think about it. It’s six months out. You have time to find what you want to buy for that special someone, then hunt and search and shop for the best deal. Download Ibotta to your phone and find immediate discounts and rebates on items you already buy from your favorite stores, restaurants, grocers and movie theaters when you scan receipts with your smartphone camera. Apply discount and rebate savings toward your gift-giving.
Sign up for email updates. Retailers often send discounts and promotions to their “favorite” customers. Place items in your virtual shopping cart until you get a notice that the price has dropped.
Before Cyber-Monday, download Chrome’s Honey to your computer to get applicable discounts, free shipping and holiday promotions automatically applied to your holiday shopping buy.
7. Club Xmas in July account
Open a Christmas club account. Go to your local bank in July to open a Christmas or Holiday Club Account. Direct deposit some money from each paycheck into your new account, so the money is there when it’s time to spend. If done right, you won’t miss this money from each paycheck and you’ll avoid credit cards this holiday season. Granted, you’ll get less interest in a savings account than your teenager, but this isn’t a get rich quick money plan. We’re giving to others.
While you’re opening accounts and setting up direct deposits, learn how to be late on your bills again.
8. When grilling, think giving and gift carding
Long-time readers know we’re no fan of gift cards, though they do have their place. Unlike the extremes of both political parties, we don’t expect everyone to be like us. If you’re a gift card buyer or have a recipient on your list who prefers gift cards, buy your gift cards now. Sites such as GiftCards.com and GiftCardGranny.com rotate promotions for various gift cards throughout the year. Between now and the giving season, you can find the perfect gift card for the perfect person at a deep discount.
9. Holiday hoarding in the heat
We don’t want to see you on the Learning Channel anytime soon, but stock up in July on Christmas items you know you’ll buy like holidays cards, decorations and lights. Amazon, OverStock.com and nearly every online retailer have July inventories of Christmas items at bargain-basement prices. With the advent of the internet, gone are the days of saving on them starting December 26th. Pour your favorite summer sangria and stock up on your Christmas decorations only on items you need (does anyone really need a Christmas wreath for their car?).
With these tips, you’ll skate through this holiday season better than Nancy Kerrigan through the 1994 U.S. Championships.
Make the rest of your financial life as slick by learning how to budget like a bada$$.